MMAmania.com caught up with Raymond "Real Deal" Daniels after his insane knockout over Francois Ambang at the GLORY Superfight Series at the 1STBANK Center in Broomfield, Colorado, this past Saturday night (May 3, 2014). The budding welterweight explained his finishing kick, coming back after his first career loss, and why he wants Nieky Holzken, as well.
Raymond Daniels has arrived.
Saying that the welterweight made a statement on the GLORY Superfight Series prior to GLORY 16: "Denver" would be vastly underrating what he was able to pull off.
His highlight reel knockout victory over Francois Ambang -- a kick reminiscent of something you would see out of a video game -- went viral over the weekend, not long after it connected flush on his opponent's chin.
If you haven't seen it by now (click here).
Ambang was woozy after Daniels dropped him with a right hook during an early exchange in the pocket, but the resilient fighter from Cameroon continued on. Not long after, the Kenpo black belt landed what Duke Roufus referred to as a "two-touch 360 spinning back kick," during the telecast and later tweeted it was the "kick of the century."
Daniels hit Ambang in the chest with his right foot, before spinning and kicking Ambang in the face with his left. Referee Oscar Martinez immediately called off the fight at the 1:47 mark of the opening round, while waving for medical assistance for Ambang.
"It's actually a base technique that we practice a lot," Daniels told MMAmania.com backstage after the fight's conclusion. "It's a side kick, spin-side kick. It's a double kick. It's something that I practice and catch people with quite often during training. It's a martial arts-based move so a lot of times it's new to the kickboxing world because they've never seen a technique like that. I definitely wanted to come out and make a statement and do something to give the crowd something exciting. I wasn't impressed with my last performance so I wanted to come out and do something that would be remembered."
"I had already envisioned throwing that side kick, spin-side kick and actually knocking him out with it," he continued. "I dreamt about it for a month or so now and I knew it was going to happen. It was just about going out and doing what my mind perceived what my body was already capable of doing and what I already felt."
It was a huge victory for "Real Deal" for two reasons.
One, for the California-based fighter's place and relevancy among the GLORY welterweights and two, to see how he could shore up his game and bounce back from his only career defeat in stand-up fighting to Joseph Valtellini back at GLORY 13: "Tokyo" in December. Daniels' lack of low kick defense was exposed by "Bazooka Joe" before the Canadian landed a high kick for the knockout in the opening round of the night's tournament.
His newest trainer, Tyler Wombles -- a former assistant of the esteemed Rafael Cordiero at Kings MMA -- was brought in to work on his mistakes from his last fight and tighten up his Muay Thai game. Wombles was obviously extremely happy with the results.
"I'm really proud of him he did a great job," Wombles said. "Out of, I think, five leg checks he checked four of them. He only got caught with one. We really stressed overworking the checks because we knew that Francois was going to come with those heavy leg kicks and heavy hands, so he kept his shield up, kept his checks ready. You saw what his hard work did. It paid off."
As far as seeing a pro bout end with a kick like Daniels' Matrix-worthy finisher, Wombles said "never in my life."
"But, I'll say this: he did knock out one of our guys in training with that same exact kick before about a month ago," he continued with a big smile. "It's something he does. It's something he's got in the arsenal, in the chamber at all times. There's a lot more in there too."
"Real Deal" improves to 2-1 in GLORY and 25-1 (1 NC) overall. Known for his evasive and flashy style, always bouncing around on the outside and showcasing his sport karate background, he also hung in the pocket and dropped Ambang early in the fight.
"I've been working on improving my game from my Thai game to my boxing game, working to sit down on my punches," Daniels said. "Being able to combine my boxing skills and my Thai skills with my martial arts. I felt like I came out a brand new me, Raymond Daniels 2.0, so to speak."
Daniels may be sitting at No. 8 in the GLORY welterweight rankings, but he wants to capitalize on this victory and was calling out whoever won the night's title fight, before Marc De Bonte edged out Karapet Karapetyan by split decision to become the first-ever GLORY welterweight champion.
"I'll put it out now that I will challenge whoever the winner is of my belt tonight," he stated confidently. "I feel that it is my belt and if they want to be the best they need to come through me. Wherever GLORY puts me in the ranking is where GLORY puts me in the ranking, but I will go ahead and throw it out -- whether it's Mr. De Bonte or Mr. Karapetyan that wins tonight -- I'll challenge either one of them for the title."
Daniels didn't stop there. The 34-year-old black belt from Long Beach also called out the No. 1-ranked welterweight on the roster, who wasn't in the title fight due to an injury.
"I know Mr. Holzken (Nieky) is supposed to be next in line, so ... well, how about he comes and fights me in his first fight back and the winner of that goes and fights for the title."
GLORY announced that De Bonte is taking on "Bazooka" Joe Valtellini at the "Last Man Standing" pay-per-view (PPV) that is slated for next month, and Holzken isn't scheduled to return yet from injury. It remains to be seen what head of talent, Cor Hemmers has in store for Daniels, but GLORY CEO Andrew Whitaker said the talk of America having no talented kickboxers is "obviously and quantifiably untrue."
"Cor Hemmers and his whole team that works in that specific division of the company are obviously very expert in being able to identify top talent," Whitaker continued. "Obviously, Mr. Daniels is one of the few already that we've come across in our scouting."
Daniels said he believes he's "been put here on this earth to do something" and his fighting skills are a "gift" and something he's "been blessed with."
The ever confident fighter who believes in his own "higher power" made mention that he had another technique he was planning on using against Ambang that would've outdone the side spin, side kick, but he wouldn't reveal what it was and it remains a secret for now.
"Oh yeah, I'll save that one for the cameras, when the cameras get out," he said with a smile. "Otherwise I'm going to be giving away my good stuff, you know what I mean?"
See the full results from last weekend's kickboxing event right here.